How to Decide on a Career Path in the Charity Sector

3 minute read

If you’re considering a job or career change, it’s important to understand what you have to offer a charity, whether you currently work in the sector or not. So many of us end up in the wrong jobs because we’re just not clear on what we can bring to an employer. So how do you decide on a career path in the charity sector?


Take a step back

I remember my English teacher telling me to pause at the beginning of an exam to properly read the questions, create a plan and then get writing. That’s what I’m asking you to do.

Applying for a job can be very anxiety-inducing and it’s tempting to leap into action with applications and interviews. However, pausing to properly assess your skills and achievements will empower you. Once you know what you’re good at and what you want, you’ll be able to tell employers what you can do for them with confidence.

A major turning point in my career was taking the time to acknowledge what I was good (and not so good) at. Here are three major questions that will help you to decide on a career path.

Woman wearing an orange jumper and glasses looking out the window

 1. What do you enjoy doing?

Before you decide on a career path, it’s important to consider the things that bring you joy. This sounds like an easy question to answer but, in my experience, it can be a very intimidating one. I’d suggest not thinking about the world of work, but simply focusing on what you enjoy doing in general. Even if you don’t have much work experience, you’ll have things to consider.

Do you enjoy spending time with people or spending time alone? Do you really enjoy being creative or do you prefer to follow given processes? Is there a hobby you enjoy like writing or drawing that could be incorporated into a job? Too often we limit what’s possible from our work life, so I’d encourage you to be as open as you can when answering this.


2. What do other people compliment you or ask for your advice on?

Are you the friend people always come to for advice? Some jobs such as HR or Communications (my field) rely heavily on being a skilled communicator who others feel comfortable talking to. Other jobs, such as CRM Officers, are very focused on behind-the-scenes coordination of systems like Salesforce.

There’s no wrong or right answer―being happy in a job is about finding the right one for you. Try to catch any judgements about what you ‘should’ or ‘shouldn’t’ be good at.

A woman holding a mug talks to a man

 3. What are your proudest accomplishments?

Believe me, I understand how hard it can be to celebrate yourself. I was certainly brought up to believe that it was arrogant to talk about what you’d done well or to take the credit for something, even if it was a project you’d put everything into!

But the thing I’ve learnt during my career is that it is exactly that—my career. If I wasn’t going to be my own best advocate and cheerleader, then I couldn’t expect anyone else to be. The most transformative change in my approach to deciding on a career path has been accepting that I’m the one responsible for it!

It’s down to you to list all of your greatest accomplishments (work- and non-work-related). These can become answers to those dreaded ‘Can you tell me about a time when…’ interview questions. Instead of staring blankly back at the panel you can proclaim, ‘Yes I can tell you about such a time and here I go!’ Listing your accomplishments will enable you to write an application and walk into an interview knowing you do have something valuable to offer the charity sector—which everyone does!


Once you have answers to these three questions you can begin to look at jobs with a much more discerning eye. You’ll be aware of what you enjoy doing, the skills others recognise in you and your proudest achievements. This will help you to decide on a career path in the charity sector that fits you well.

Ready to give it a go? Take a look at the newest job openings on the CharityJob website.

Good luck!


This post was originally published in 2021 and has been updated to ensure relevance and to reflect the current job seeker experience.


Lydia Brita

Lydia Brita has worked in the charity sector for nearly a decade, starting off as a volunteer. She's now Communications Officer at STEP (the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners), a global professional body. Her background is in building communities, both online and offline through effective communication strategies, social media and copywriting.

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